are a number of things you can do to keep your Mac running quickly and
smoothly and also prevent loss of data. I suggest that you make a schedule
of maintenance that you follow. How many different applications you use,
how often you use them and the importance of the information generated
will dictate how often you need to do these chores.
I would suggest for those who use quite a number of applications
and/or use their machine over 20 hours a week that a monthly run of Disk
First Aid and a Desktop rebuild
would be sufficient. For those who (or whose children) run high memory
games or try many applications downloaded from the internet, it would
be advisable to do this weekly. If all you do is work with a word processor
and use your email then less frequently will suffice.
As for backing up your data, it is a matter of how often you
edit or create files and how important that information is to you. A weekly
backup for most of us is probably sufficient but if your data is critical,
then a daily backup might be necessary. It is likely that different data
will require a different schedule. The question to ask is "How much
information can I afford to lose and have to recreate?" My Quicken
files I can recreate a couple of weeks worth of entries in a short time.
However, changes to my web site and writings would be very difficult to
recreate, even a day's worth. How ever you decide to do it be sure to
BACK UP REGULARLY!!!
One other thing should be said here also. SAVE
YOUR WORK REGULARLY!!! Some programs have a "timed save"
option. Use them and if a program doesn't, get into the habit of saving
in short intervals.
Disk First Aid
Disk First Aid
(DFA) is your first line of defense when things are not well and also
as preventive maintenance. You will find DFA in the Utilities folder on
your hard drive. You should restart with all extensions turned off (restart
holding the shift key down until you see the opening splash screen) or
start from a disk other than the one you want to check (a bootable removable
disk like the Mac OS system disk or secondary volume). Older versions
of DFA can not repair the startup disk or disk it was launched from.
Once you start DFA you will see a screen similar to this. You may only
see a single icon and that is because I have my iMac partitioned into
Select the drive you would like to check and click on the Verify
button. DFA will do a series of checks of the selected drive.
If DFA finds any problems you will be alerted. Click on the Repair
button and DFA will attempt to repair the problem. Most often it is capable
of repairing any errors it finds.
"Rebuilding the Desktop"
If you are experiencing
odd behaviors (Generic icons, finder is particularly slow, slow startups,
etc.) you should rebuild the desktop database files. There are a couple
of ways to do this.
THE OS way, the easiest but not really
1. Run Disk First Aid and repair any errors.
2. Go to your "Extensions Manager" in Control Panels and choose
the "Base" OS set for the OS you are running.
3. Choose restart, and once you hear the start-up chime hold down both
the Apple (command) and Option keys until you see the dialog box asking
if you are sure you want to rebuild, choose OK.
MY Way, and I'm in the majority on
1. If you don't already have the Freeware program "Trash Desktop",
go get it at http://www.plugin.ch/opus/E_TrashDesktop.html
2. Run Disk First Aid.
3. Drag Trash Desktop to your launcher or put an alias on the desktop.
4. Go to your "Extensions Manager" in Control Panels and choose
the "Base" OS set you are running. Choose Restart.
5. Drag your hard drive icon over the Trash Desktop icon.
6. In your Preferences folder drag "Finder Preferences" to the
trash (HD:System Folder:Preferences).
7. Go to your "Extensions Manager" in Control Panels and choose
the set you usually run. Choose Restart.
like all other machinery, sometimes go on the blink. Your Mac is no different.
There is nothing quite as disheartening as losing files due to corruption
or serious hard drive problems. Backing up your data is vital and you
should create a schedule which you adhere to. I suggest a weekly back
up at minimum.
One of the most difficult tasks is to decide what to back
up and where to find it. Each program will save it's documents to a default
folder, usually in the program folder. You can choose another folder.
I would suggest that you choose the "Documents"
folder which was installed with your OS. You can easily create many nested
folders there to organize your documents. This way most of your documents
will be in one place and easily backed up. You can then simply just copy
this "Documents" folder to a removable disk or another drive.
You can change the default folder for all applications to the "Documents"
folder by changing the preference in the General
You may have to or choose to back up the nested folders
separately depending on their size. I do keep my projects backed up separately
and use a shareware program "Simple Back Up" which I describe
other preventative measures which you can take to help keep things running
When ever you install a new program, first Go to your "Extensions
Manager" in Control Panels and choose the "Base" OS set
for the OS you are running and restart. After installation restart
using the extension set you usually use and use the new program and a
few others to verify that there are no conflicts between programs. If
you find you don't want to keep the program use the uninstaller, if the
program has one. It usually will be found in the "Custom Installation"
option of the installer, if it is not, there ought to be an installer
log created by the program telling you what files were installed where.
Be sure to delete all the files the program installed, especially any
control panels or extensions and preference files.
Another source of problems that users experience is having multiple copies
of a program. They may be the same or different versions. When you update
a program or reinstall it be sure that the old program is deleted. Many
updaters do this for you but not all. Also be sure to update any of the
aliases that you use to launch that program. If you are having trouble
with a program do a search for it with Sherlock to be sure that only one
exists. I have found that this happens quite often with browsers and email
programs and can cause great confusion to both you and the program.
Shut down your Mac properly. Using the Shut Down command from the Special
Menu or the by using power key, choosing Shut Down from the dialog box
which appears. I prefer to shut my Mac down at night so that each morning
I start with a fresh system minimizing the possibility of continuing with
yesterday's possible conflicts.
So far I have only disscussed those tools that you already
have or are free to use. There are however other commercial products which
do more complete tests of your system. The one suggestion I would like
to stress is not to have these programs run automatically but rather scan
your drives regularly by booting from the utility's CD.